Qualitative research is a broad field of inquiry that uses unstructured data collection methods, such as observations, interviews, surveys and documents, to find themes and meanings to inform our understanding of the world.  Qualitative research tends to try to uncover the reasons for behaviors, attitudes and motivations, instead of just the details of what, where and when. Qualitative research can be done across many disciplines, such as social science, healthcare and business, and is a common feature of nearly every single workplace and educational environment.
A formatting standard is especially important if you have a team project where there are multiple interviewers and transcribers. Make sure they are using the same formatting for pauses, emphasis and identifying speakers. The guide to transcription in a previous blog post covers some of the things you will want to standardise. Some people prefer to read through the transcripts checking for typos and inaccuracies, possibly even while listening to the audio recording of the session. It can be tempting to assume you will pick these up when reading through the data for analysis, but you may find that correcting typos breaks your train of thought too often.
Example 3: What are the special challenges that students who are born in Germany and have an immigrant background face?
Generally, this question can serve as basis for a qualitative study but it needs some further clarification. In Germany, we have immigrants from lots of different backgrounds: people from Turkey, Russia and the successor states of the former Soviet Union, Poland, successor states of the former Yugoslavia, Italy, Greece, etc. Some are Muslims, some are Catholics and others are atheists. And they came for different reasons: work, war, breakdown of communism or having German ancestors. Hence, it is to expect that each group faces different challenges. It is thinkable to design a study where all groups are included, but this would be very large and extensive qualitative research project. The advice here is to narrow the question to one particular group of immigrants.
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